Nationwide Children's Renaming Research Institute for Wexner

Julanne Hohbach
Abigail Wexner and Dr. Steve Allen at Nationwide Children's Hospital in 2013

The Wexner moniker will soon grace a second Central Ohio medical facility. Nationwide Children’s Hospital is renaming its Research Institute to recognize the contributions of longtime board member, donor and advocate Abigail Wexner.

According to the Jan. 25 announcement, Wexner’s 25-plus years as a board member have been marked by a “period of unprecedented transformation” at the hospital and its Research Institute. Her partnership with board colleagues, CEO Steve Allen and other executives made that progress possible, the statement said.

The institute will be rededicated May 21 as the Abigail Wexner Research Institute. “This dedication is a fitting tribute to Abigail Wexner and her tireless vision for advancing the mission of Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” Allen said in the announcement. “The Abigail Wexner Research Institute has attracted some of the brightest minds in pediatric medicine, and their discoveries have already led to lifesaving treatments. The institute’s continuing work in genomics, gene therapy, tissue engineering and other cutting-edge fields will shape the future of children’s health care.”

This is the second significant announcement involving Wexner and Nationwide Children’s Hospital this week. On Jan. 21, the hospital announced she and husband Les Wexner had donated $20 million to The Center for Family Safety and Healing, through their Wexner Family Charitable Fund. (Read that Columbus Monthly story in the "Related content" link.) The nonprofit center, which she chairs, focuses on domestic violence and abuse.

Those issues have long been important to Wexner, who founded the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence in 1998. The Center for Family Safety and Healing was formed in 2011 when the coalition merged with the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The Wexners hosted The New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day, a 20-year Central Ohio tradition, at their home to raise money for the center, but the event was discontinued last year.

According to Nationwide Children’s, Wexner joined the board in 1993 and chaired the group from 2005 to 2012. During that seven-year period, the hospital underwent its largest-ever expansion, including the completion of two new buildings. The hospital tallied the Wexners’ cumulative personal and philanthropic impact on the institution at more than $80 million.

Also Jan. 25, Nationwide Children’s announced it will establish the Allen Distinguished Scholar in Pediatric Research in honor of the outgoing CEO and medical doctor, who plans to retire June 30. The first $100,000 award will be announced later in the year. Allen has held the hospital’s top post since 2006.

A private fundraiser will be held at the Wexner residence May 21 with Walter Isaacson, a noted journalist and biographer. The event will benefit an endowment for the Allen award. Details will be announced later at